ribbon – Keyboard navigation versus mouse navigation

Another aspect to consider separate to productivity

Is there a legal requirement for you to ensure your software can work without a mouse? The answer to this will depend on where you are in the world, and what legal jurisdiction the business running the software is under.

For example, Im in New Zealand.

  • If this software was for members of the public to use over the internet, and the organisation was a government department, then we would be required to comply with WCAG 2.0 level AA — which includes device independence.
  • If the software was for internal staff to use, regardless of how the interface was accessed (browser, stand-alone app) then the specific standards aren’t directly named, but the organisation must comply with equal employment opportunity, health and safety, and human rights legislation. One of the best ways to comply with this legislation is to follow WCAG 2.0 AA.

Unless you can personally identify every single user of your software and identify any specific needs they have, including the use of assistive technologies, in order for them to do their day-to-day job, then there is a risk that some users will be unable to use the software.

On a personal note, if I was using your software all day to perform 12 repetitive tasks, Id expect the option for keyboard navigation, it might make the repetitive nature of the work a bit easier to sit through.

Assuming the jobs aren’t new, what are users doing now?

You might think this a strange thing to ask, but seriously:

  • Have you tested even a prototype interface with real users of the system to see exactly how they would interact with it?
  • Have you done a comparison to the other tools they use for the their jobs?
  • Is there a minimum benchmark for functionality your software should be aiming for?
  • Is the new software better than what its replacing?

Your issue really sounds like a project management one

If your first release is going to be just a pilot with a few users you might get away with dropping the keyboard navigation. Similarly if your first release is just the beginning of an iterative rolling release schedule where you can gather and respond to user feedback and issues quickly.

If your project is like many of the projects Ive worked on recently, there are months if not years between releases (another than maintenance or patches), and as soon as the product launches all funds for ongoing development start to dry up.

Cutting the functionality from your first release might save you some time and money now, but in the long run will that still be the case? I can’t answer that part for you…

{ Oh my, think of the $$$ I could make if I could 🙂 }